One of the pleasures of teaching writing is finding satisfying lessons that give writers ideas to play around with in their writers notebooks. In addition to the bone, heart or hand lesson that Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers and Ruth Ayres Writes have written about in different posts, some beginning lessons can be more specific. In workshop, although I offer the ideas, they still remain a choice, but I do ask students to jot down some ideas about the topic that would help them return to it if desired. The topics presented help students jumpstart their memories of things important in their pasts, like particular events connected to food, travel, siblings, birthdays, etc. Sometimes in class, we just have conversations in order to share favorite memories, and then I might send students off to record what the talk helped them remember that was important. And other times I’ve collected prose and poetry pieces to share about a topic that might spark an idea. One of those topics I’ve found of continuing interest for students is shoes. Through the years, I’ve managed to collect a few pieces about shoes, and students always seemed to have a personal story to tell about shoes in their lives.
Here are some poems I’ve collected about shoes and the links or directions for finding:
“Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes” ~Gary Soto
“Shoes” ~Cynthia Rylant from Something Permanent by Rylant and Walker Evans
“Johnny Laces Up His Red Shoes” ~Cornelius Edy
“The Need for Shoes” ~Molly Bendall
both from The Invisible Ladder, An Anthology of Contemporary American Poems for Young Readers, Liz Rosenberg, ed.
“New Shoes” ~Linda Hogan from Earth power coming : short fiction in native American
literature Simon J. Ortiz, ed.
“Bound Feet” ~Janet S. Wong, from Good Luck Gold and Other Poems
And here is my own memory:
There was a lovely pair of red shoes that I spied in a shop window, red flats that would make me a star to others, and let them know that I was a grown-up girl, ready to give up the socks and tie shoes I had worn almost all my grade school years. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but every time we went into the big town near the little town where I lived, I managed to walk by this store for a peek in the window. These weren’t the times when children begged and begged until their parents bought what they wanted. Only three times during the year did I receive things: Christmas, my birthday, and the beginning of school. It was not even near the time for any of those days when I saw the red shoes. I didn’t say anything to family about the shoes, but I kept a diary and a sketchbook as I grew up, and I wrote about them, along with sketching them. When I sketched, I put them on a young girl and dressed her up quite well! I sketched her with the shoes more than one time, and my mother must have seen the pictures. One day, when I opened my closet, there, along with my pair of brown tie shoes, sat the red ones. I turned around and there was my mother, watching. I believe her smile was as big as mine. The shoes were such a surprise because I hadn’t even realized that anyone had noticed how much I had wished for them. I remember wearing them and wearing them. They were just perfect, although I did get a few blisters from all the wearing, and parts of my feet turned red for a while from the dye. I didn’t care; I had my grown-up red shoes!